Press Release 18th of June 2021
The coronavirus pandemic has affected the well-being and ability to cope of students in higher education, which has been reflected at the FSHS as a clearly growing demand for mental health services. In 2020, assessments of the need for mental health-related treatment increased by 26% from the previous year, and demand for these services has continued strong in 2021. These exceptional times have increased the need for remote mental health services and low-threshold support.
“This prolonged, abnormal situation has worsened mental health problems among students in higher education. Even when the restrictions are loosened and the situation normalises, the effects on the well-being of individual students could well persist for a long time”, says Tommi Väyrynen, Medical Director in Mental Health and Study Community Work at the FSHS.
In spring 2021, the FSHS received funding from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health to support the well-being of students in higher education. The FSHS has already obtained 750,000 euros out of a grant of 5 million euros. An application for additional funding of nearly four million euros is currently being prepared. The government funding received by the FSHS is for 2021 and will not be used to cover routine services.
“The additional funds granted by the government are earmarked mainly for the MieliChat service recently opened for students. We’ve used some of the funds to hire healthcare professionals for the new chat service. We’ll also be allocating funds to the transcranial stimulation project that was piloted successfully in 2020”, Väyrynen explains.
The additional funding being applied for would be allocated for things such as increasing short-term therapy and online mental health services, as well as for the digitalisation of health promotion services to provide freely available online courses. Another aim is to provide more group treatments in the autumn term.
“The pandemic has caused feelings of loneliness and affected the sense of community among students. Group treatments can provide peer support and new social contacts. Closer collaboration between institutions of higher education and student associations is also important in combatting loneliness.”
If you have worries, MieliChat is there for you
Thanks to the additional funding, the FSHS was able to open a new chat service at the beginning of the summer to support student well-being. MieliChat is the place to talk anonymously to FSHS healthcare professionals about worries and get advice and support for mental health and well-being. MieliChat is available from Monday to Friday (8 a.m. to 2 p.m.) in Finnish, Swedish and English until the end of the year.
“MieliChat complements other helpline services, and I believe students will find it useful even during the summer. Many students have not been able to find a summer job due to the pandemic, which can add to their frustration and cause financial worries. At the beginning of the autumn term, we’ll be strengthening our SelfChat resources for assessing the need for mental health-related treatment”, Väyrynen says.
For more information, Tommi Väyrynen, Medical Director in Mental Health and Study Community Work, tel. 046 876 9743.